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April 9, 2002

A couple of newspapers from vastly different eras got my attention recently. One was a remarkably good copy of an 1897 issue of the Perry Sentinel, edited by Lon Wharton, and the other was a recent issue of the Perry Middle School’s monthly paper edited by Justin Dvorak and Mitchell Steichen. Both were interesting and well done, each with the different perspective that you would expect.

The Sentinel, a special issue, was printed on a high grade of slick, glossy paper and it has survived all these years with few signs of age. It’s in much better shape than conventional papers printed on the less durable newsprint. Mr. Wharton used this edition to celebrate the growth of Perry and Noble county just four years after the Cherokee Outlet land run. It contains feature stories about individuals, institutions and businesses then in existence, all written in the vernacular style of the day – which is to say, exceedingly flowery. Along with the stories are countless photographs showing heavily bearded men, women in Gibson Girl fashions of the day, attractive homes embellished with gingerbread ornamentation, and items about a variety of retail firms then doing business in Perry. One of the personal profiles tells about C.T. Taliaferro, an African-American who took part in the historic 1893 run and became a respected Perry community leader and merchant.

This paper was among the effects found in the home of Vera Luthye, who died the other day. A nephew, John Luthye of Perry, is sifting through the collection and trying to get the material organized. There’s a lot to be examined, and perhaps later on I’ll have an opportunity to report more about all this because I think you’ll find it interesting. This newspaper alone is a fascinating piece of memorabilia.

The other paper from Perry Middle School is equally interesting in its own way, though written and edited for a different age group. The copy in my hands was brought to me by my granddaughter, Amy, who proudly walked me through the major points of interest in this particular issue. Staff members under Justin and Mitchell are students at the Middle School on 15th street, and they are doing a great job. It’s printed (by Xerox?) on both sides of three 8 ½” x 11” sheets, with a large smiley face at the top. On the front page is an update by Brittany Bazzell reporting on the Steve Smith family, who were involved in a major car accident a few weeks ago. The piece even includes a photograph, part of the miracle of today’s desktop editing. Another story, by Brett Scott, covers the NCAA basketball tournament. Scattered throughout are a movie review (“Ice Age” gets a thumbs-up from Carlos Gibson; a survey of embarrassing moments assembled by Kaitlyn Armstrong; “guess who” by Adam Schwandt; OSU intern by Bethany Johnson; OU women’s basketball roundup by Macy Fisher; “word of the month” by Jacob Gilbreath; March Madness feature by Kelsey Stoops; birthday greetings assembled by ErinWilliams; and a school calendar for March-April on the back page.

We didn’t have a great school paper like that when I was the age of those youngsters, and we probably would not have had a staff that good. Congratulations, boys and girls! Keep up the good work.